Press conference

Emery and Mkhitaryan in Kiev: every single word

Unai Emery and Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrived in Kiev on Wednesday and broke off from the rest of the squad to head to the Olympic Stadium for a press conference.

Micki has been here before, of course - he had stints with Metalurg and Shakhtar Donetsk before he moved to Borussia Dortmund.

The hot topic was Uefa’s decision to move our game against Vorskla from Poltava to Kiev, but there was still time for the head coach and the Armenia international to discuss our academy contingent and Micki’s Ukrainian memories.

Here’s a full transcript:

on how much the change of city has changed preparations…
UE: Good evening. First of all, we need to respect Uefa’s decision because it’s not easy for Vorskla. It’s not an easy decision for Uefa to make either. For us, yesterday we were preparing for our trip to Poltava and then awaiting the final decision in the evening. We made small changes in our training session in London and now we have just arrived. This decision, for us, is with all the respect.

on the young players…
UE: We have a big responsibility with young players. At Arsenal, every year we are working very well with young players. When there are matches like tomorrow’s in a very big week for us, where we are playing a lot of matches, we have players to cover here. We need to give them chances. They are working with us in all the sessions and also in pre-season. They are coming with us because we can give them chances tomorrow and also because we would prefer for some players to not do this long travelling. We prefer for them to stay in London working for the next match on Sunday. The Europa League is very important for us and it’s very important for us to win tomorrow and come first in this group. The young players are going to have chances. Then you know that some players like Eddie Nketiah, like Willock, like Emile Smith Rowe, have played. Then other younger players are coming through with us like Bukayo, Dominic, Zech and Charlie. For us, it’s not different because they are working with us every day.

on Micki’s first year at the club…
HM: I would say it’s a bit too early to say something about it but I’m very pleased to be here and I’m trying my best. It wasn’t very easy at the start but I kept working every day and game after game, I’m trying to improve my game. I would say everything is going well, I’m very happy at the moment and I hope to continue in the same way.

on whether the venue change is an advantage for us…
UE: It doesn’t change a lot for us to play here, only that we had to move to Kiev like the journalists and the Arsenal supporters who travelled. They travelled to Poltava and then had to come here for tomorrow. Then in 90 minutes, it’s not a very big change. It’s clear they are playing in Ukraine and not in their town, but here in Kiev they can also move their supporters. In the 90 minutes, we want to do our work here. We want to prepare for Poltava with the respect to them.

on whether Unai was surprised by the late decision…
UE: This decision is not easy but I think it’s been made with a big responsibility. Uefa found the best decision to make us able to play, and also to protect everybody. They’re protecting us and they’re protecting them. We were waiting for this decision but we knew that we had to respect it. The travel changed but I think Kiev has a lot of possibility for us and also for the media and supporters. The most important change is that it affects the supporters. We need them to come here and then stay with us tomorrow. It’s very cold here like it is in Poltava but we’re going to play with this weather. We prepared for the match in this context with our players and also with the respect for Vorskla. We only want to play the match, to win and to show every supporter that we can do well.

on what Micki remembers from his time in Ukraine…
HM: I’m very pleased to be here and I have a lot of good memories from time with Shakhtar and Metalurh, and also with the players I used to play with. I still remember the day when I scored two goals for Donetsk.

on whether he will experiment tomorrow…
UE: We are thinking about the next match, and the next match is tomorrow. We are making some changes for tomorrow for the players, to give them chances. The match on Sunday is important but firstly we need to think about tomorrow. We want to play and to win, and also work with different players because we need all of them.

on Vorskla…
UE: We have respect for every team and we have respect for Vorskla because they are here in the Europa League with us. They earned the right to play here against us. They also have players with quality, and they are a very organised and competitive team. We know it’s not going to be easy to win here. We know their results against Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk, and also here against Qarabag and Sporting. Every match against them is very close in the result and we know tomorrow is a very good opportunity for them to play against us and give their best performance. We need to produce a good performance to beat them.

on which city Micki misses the most in Ukraine…
HM: As I played for Shakhtar, of course I wanted to visit Donetsk again. I am ready to play in Poltava, I am ready to play in Kiev. We had a long trip but for us it doesn’t matter about where we play. Of course for Poltava, it’s a big disadvantage because they wanted to play at home.

on security concerns…
UE: We need to share players playing with us regularly and also play with young players. But first is to win tomorrow. We don’t want tomorrow to lose respect for EL and also for the position. Our spirit is to play with the players we think are OK and also continue to improve our idea on pitch. Security? When UEFA said to us we can play here safely  we decided to come and respect the UEFA decision.

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